Children are exposed to many hours of alcohol use in movies, especially films rated PG-13, according to a new study of adolescents ages 10 to 14 years. The study looked at alcohol use and brand appearances in 534 popular movies during a 5 1/2 year period.

The study's authors analyzed alcohol depictions of 100 US box office hits each year from 1998 to 2002 and 34 top movies from early 2003. They looked at the use of beer, wine or liquor in the film, if any character became intoxicated, how long alcohol was consumed and appearances of alcohol brands in the films. PG-13 is considered a sterner warning than PG for parents who are deciding whether their children under the age of 13 should view a movie.

From the sampled movies, about 83 percent depicted alcohol use and 52 percent contained at least one alcohol brand appearance. These movies exposed the average adolescent to 5.6 hours of alcohol use and nearly 244 brand appearances. The highest alcohol exposure is from PG-13 movies, which had as much content as R-rated movies, said Sonya Dal Cin, an assistant professor of U-M's Department of Communication Studies and the study's lead author.

"Movie alcohol exposure could influence adolescents' beliefs about drinking," she said, "making them more likely to use alcohol."

The article appears in the Late Fall 2008 issue of Michigan Alumnus.